Parent (Bleep)ing Mad Over Homework With Bad Words

Filed under: In The News, Education: Big Kids, Education: Tweens, Education: Teens

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Connecticut parents are outraged when offensive words appear on their kids' homework. Credit: Getty Images


You might say a parent in Greenwich, Conn., is (bleep)ing mad and thinks local school officials ought to get their (bleep) together and tell a teacher to take his homework assignment and shove up right up his (bleep).

You might say that, but you don't want to go around swearing like a sailor. That's how this whole (bleep) storm started.

A teacher at Greewich's Central Middle School wanted to observe the American Library Association's Banned Books Week Sept. 25 to Oct. 5 by showing kids why certain books get censored.

The teacher compiled a list of "offensive" passages from frequently banned books.

Guess what? A parent got offended.

The quotes included the N-word that refers to African Americans, as well as the dreaded F-bomb. Parent Gary Cella tells the Greenwich Citizen that goes too far.

"I feel as a parent of a seventh grader that words that start with the letter 'F' and are four letters in duration and that words that start with letter 'N' and are six letters in duration are inappropriate," Cella tells the newspaper. "Like many parents, I said, 'Let's go over your homework.' When I saw this, I literally stopped in my tracks and did the classic double-take. It's not something you expect from any school."


The quotes come from from such literary classics as "Sounder," "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Pearl."

In "Sounder," the story about the struggles of a black sharecropper family, a character makes the following statement: " 'There are two things I can smell a mile,' the first man said in a loud voice. 'One's a ham cookin' and the other's a thievin' individual of (African-American) descent.' "

Well, he doesn't exactly use those last five words. He substitutes one word. That's because racist (bleep)heads don't always use polite language.

Nonetheless, Cella's outrage soon spread. Sam Romeo, a radio host on local station WGCH, picked up the cause.

Romeo tells the Greenwich Citizen many people in his industry have lost their jobs over the use of such language. Free expression doesn't justify students reading everything, he says.

"Can they also get a copy of Playboy and Penthouse magazine under free speech?" he asks.

School Superintendent Sidney Freund defends the assignment.

"They're all books that are in our library that any child can read," Freund tells the newspaper. "The quotes are being read by kids out of context on purpose. What we try to do always in school is we present things with opposing viewpoints."

Freund tells the newspaper the handout was part of a broader assignment. Students were expected to read from one of the works on the American Library Association's banned book list and write a persuasive essay or create a PowerPoint presentation on the subject of censorship.

He tells the Citizen the assignment has been part of the school's accelerated learning curriculum for a number of years and that this is the first complaint.

"My caution would be in the future, if we're doing this and prior to doing it, is a letter to parents letting them know what we're doing and explaining the lessons since there was some obvious concern related to this," he adds. "Some tempering of the quotes could be made and we would not lose the essence of the message that we're trying to deliver to the kids about censorship. But overall, the lesson in the unit is a good one."

Cella tells the newspaper he and other parents remain unmoved.

"My goodness, they grow up so fast to begin with," he tells the Citizen. "Do you have to expose them to these words? When your teacher is using the F-word and the N-word, it kind of OKs their usage outside that particular assignment. You can't have it both ways."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.